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School as a site for natural language learning

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According to the sociocultural perspective of language development, language learning is a by-product of communication that is meaningful. For deaf students, who often have limited access to communication at home, it becomes more essential that their school provides a rich communicative environment. Meaningful interaction is a powerful motivating force in human development and learning. When a deaf child is provided full communicative access in the classroom, where the teachers and classmates play the facilitative role of helping the child understand and make meaning, the child is provided an invaluable opportunity to learn language naturally. Critical questions are examined related to the access to, implementation of, and impact of a communication-rich environment. The research is grounded in sociocultural theories of learning to illuminate possible ways to mitigate the impoverished contexts for language, literacy, and cognitive development.

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